Author(s): Dave Petley

Detecting landslides using seismic data in Switzerland

Source(s): Eos - AGU
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There has been a very interesting development in the detection of landslides using seismic data. The Swiss Seismological Service (SED), which has a very high quality network that monitors seismic events across Switzerland, has started identifying signals that it suspects were associated with mass movements (landslides, rockfalls and mudflows).

SED now has a dedicated web page that lists these events. Because of uncertainties in the interpretation of the seismic signals, these are initially listed as being “suspected” – they are then “confirmed” when and if external validation of the mass movement can be achieved.

As the SED text notes, there is considerable uncertainty in the location of such events, with the recorded site being accurate to a few kilometres. Satellite imagery, aerial photographs, eyewitness reports and field visits can then be used to tie down the location.

Of course, detection of these events does not stop at the border, so the system sometimes detects landslides in Italy, Austria and France.

This is a really cool development, which is very welcome. These tools are providing real insight into the patterns of landslides in time and space. It would be really good to see similar developments in other countries with high quality networks.


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Country and region Switzerland
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